IT security audits are detailed evaluations of a company’s or a business’s information system through measuring how well it conforms to a certain set of policies and standards. You can do an IT audit yourself or hire a cybersecurity company to perform an audit for you.
An IT security audit should assess the system’s security, how it is configured, the environment, the software that is running, user practices, security of operating systems, and the information gathering processes. Several information security regulations have come up.
Security audits can also be performed to ensure compliance with regulations like the Privacy Act, Notifiable Data Breach Scheme, etc. The IT security audits also fall under security diagnostics together with penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.
All companies should have a proper security audit plan that can be repeated and be updated. It is also crucial to include stakeholders in the process of making security audit plans for better outcomes.
Why Your Business Needs Frequent IT Security Audits
There are different benefits and reasons for having a comprehensive IT security audit. Your business needs to verify its security status and its different company infrastructures like software, hardware, networks, data centers, and even services.
An IT security audit will help you determine your security posture and the state of different assets in your company. Here are the top reasons why you should always conduct security auditing;
1. To identify vulnerabilities and weak spots in the current security plan.
2.To identify if the security tools you have put in place perform their expected functions.
3.To discover concrete actions to take against security threats discovered.
4.To discover how your business can handle cyber breaches or a system outage.
5.To be compliant with data security laws like Privacy Act, NDB Scheme, GDPR, HIPAA, etc
What To Include In Your IT Security Audit Checklist
There are different key considerations you should make when doing your frequent security audits. You should also have a security audit process.
Here is a list of most of what to include and the reasons to include them. The requirements are broken down in form of a checklist that will be easy to follow for any form of business.
1. List Down The Assets You Will Work On
Your security audit process should have a clear scope. You should identify the assets you will be scanning according to the ones with the highest priority. Your list can include things like your IT infrastructure, sensitive data, and your company’s internal documentation.
This will allow you to find the right budget for all your needs and identify your high-priority assets.
After identifying your assets, you should set an improved security perimeter. To improve cyber security, you should use improved tools and equipment.
2. List The Potential Threats That Your Business Type Faces
Although there are common cyber threats that face all business types, there are others that are targeted to a certain business type like the banking sector. This is why your cyber security audit should also consider the specific business type you are running and the types of threats that target it.
You cannot protect your company from what you don’t know.
Your security experts and auditors need to look for threats, name them and give you solutions on how to adapt to future measures. Some of the threats include malicious insiders and phishing attacks.
3. Assessment Of Your Current Security Performance
You should know how your current security controls are working and security gaps your business may have. This is a crucial process to have in your security audit checklist.
This will help you in identifying how your current security system is performing and the weakest links it may have. You might have some strong controls but some may be weak since your users are not informed about the latest hacker techniques.
4. Configuration Scans
You should use a high-end security scanner since it will help you easily identify the different security vulnerabilities which will improve your PC hardening techniques.
Configuring scanners allows you to know what settings are enabled and what might have been changed. Such settings include encryption.
Your security auditors must run the set configurations scans to determine if some mistakes might have been made.
5. Don’t Ignore Reports
Most companies focus on the alerts only after carrying out an IT security audit. You should also carefully review the reports generated by the auditing tools.
These reports have valuable information which although may not be alarming, might explain a future threat or a data breach. Reports give important information that should also be properly evaluated.
6. Monitoring DNS For Unexpected Changes
Monitoring DNS is important for detecting signs related to sloppiness in terms of credentials that are used for your company’s domain. If such signs are caught early, future threats are also caught early enough.
7. Running Frequent Scans Of The Network Facing The Internet
It is crucial to conduct a security audit outside your internal network and website. You will receive alerts about any suspicious change. You should monitor and audit details like the open ports and the traffic coming from the outside network.
8. Performing An Internal Vulnerability Scan
You should install an agent on every computer in your network and monitor how they are susceptible to different vulnerabilities. You can use an enterprise-level vulnerability scanner to conduct such operations.
These scans should be run monthly or quarterly. Attackers may target specific computers in your network. Ensuring each computer has a scanner will improve network security even for your wireless networks.
You will also easily catch new vulnerabilities.
9. Monitoring Firewall Logs
Your firewall acts as a wall between your internal network and the public network. A firewall monitors outgoing traffic and filters any incoming traffic. Your firewall will have details about all your network logs and the requests being sent to your internal network.
You should frequently monitor any unusual or inconsistent behavior or traffic through your logs through network security audits. This will enable you to catch threats early and be protected from security risks
There are different tools your security team can rely on for proper security auditing and network security audit. They include OWASP top ten checklist. Burp Suite, Nessus, Qualys web app scans and Rapid7.
If you want to have an effective security audit, it should be ongoing, meaning it should not be a one-time thing. Your routine should aim at sticking to best practices, following reliable policies and procedures, and having the latest patches.
Your security policies should also follow set industry standards to avoid any security risk. You can contact different cyber security professionals to help you in conducting a special security audit.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to conduct an IT security audit let Kaesim perform the audit for you as we specialise in risk assessments (audits) and penetration tests.
How cyber-secure is your business? Find out with our free cybersecurity health check.
It’s a 30-minute Zoom call that walks through a checklist to assess your current cybersecurity levels and provide a short report with some advice and recommendations.